City council, Jan. 22, 2013


I can’t do much better than quote the resolution: “the Albany City Council wishes to express its gratitude and appreciation for Battalion Chief Brian Crudo’s many years of dedicated service to this City, and wishes Brian the best in his retirement.”

Brian Crudo was hired by the City of Albany on December 1, 1982 as Firefighter/EMT, and worked here for more than 30 years. The good news is that the city has been very fortunate to have such long-term dedicated staff. The bad news is that when folks like Brian eventually retire, they are hard to replace.

With another recent retirement, that of our Fire Chief Ed Tubbs (who we shared with Piedmont), the city will be looking to replace two skilled and experienced fire fighters.


The council heard from four members of the task force. I was impressed with the sincerity and thoughtfulness of the speakers, and the depth of thinking that went into their comments. But as one of the members mentioned, the Albany bulb is both a homeless problem and a land use problem, so it’s a tough one. We also heard there are homeless and near-homeless people living in vehicles in other parts of Albany.

Other speakers testified that many of our homeless residents are good people who have fallen through the cracks in our social safety system (if you can call it a system). Examples included veterans who never successfully transitioned back to life after the battlefield, and former foster children who outgrew California’s woeful foster care system.

Do we encourage the homeless to remain on bulb and try to bring to them some minimally decent health services? Do we encourage them to transition to some other place to live? And if we do, how do we keep the bulb from repopulating with a new group of homeless, as it did after the efforts in the late 1990s?

No simple answers here. The taskforce is scheduled to update the council in April, with the final report in Dec. 2013.


The city is working on adding social media functions the services it offers on its website. This is a topic that many local governments are struggling with. The problem is that many of the laws that govern how cities communicate—the Brown Act, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), pubic records laws, etc.—all predate the internet and it’s not clear how best to keep on the right side of these rules in the age of social media. So while the council was appreciative of the staff efforts, the advice was to go slow.

I am a big fan of the city’s website and I find the amount of information available there amazing.  Times have changed a great deal since  I started on the AUSD school board 10 years ago. So it’s important to keep some perspective. Information is already much more available from local governments than it was in the past.


At the end of the meeting, I handed out to fellow council members copies of two New York Times articles, one on the possibility of revising the California Environmental Quality Act (here), and another on the U.S. Supreme Court hearing a case on cell towers and  the scope of powers of the FCC (here).